"Category 5" Blizzard Shaping Up for North Dakota

I had a Category 5 dinner Sunday (Filipino food). This morning I woke up to a minor Category 3 headache. Maybe it's the seasons shifting gears?

We rank hurricanes and tornadoes on a scale from 1-5, why not winter storms? NOAA is testing an experimental WSSI scale (Winter Storm Severity Index) that has 5 levels. The forecast for much of North Dakota is "extreme" (Category 5) conditions from snow, ice and wind. "Life saving actions will be needed, extreme disruptions to daily life." Keep that in mind if your travels take you west in the coming days.

Minnesota will be on the warm, unstable side of this advancing storm today, meaning showers; even a clap of thunder. Temperatures tumble on Friday, but by the time it's cold enough for snow the swirl of moisture will be to our east; the dreaded "dry tongue" quickly cutting off the rain. Wrap-around snow may coat a few lawns in the metro Saturday, but most of the snow should melt on contact.

Next week looks chilly, but I'd bet a (stale) bagel we'll see more 60s.


Photo credit from Gooseberry Falls State Park: Praedictix meteorologist D.J. Kayser.


Watches and Warnings. For the sake of clarity and simplicity, hot pink = bad. Winter Storm Warnings mean treacherous travel conditions are imminent - I expect NOAA to issue Blizzard Warnings for parts of the Dakotas later today. Map: Praedictix and AerisWeather.


A "Category 5 Winter Storm". The map above is being generated by NOAA's experimental WSSI product, or Winter Storm Severity Index. Expect "Extreme Impacts" between the Red River Valley and Bismarck, with "extensive and widespread severe property damage, life savingactionswill be needed. Results in extreme disruptions to daily life". Details here: Feedback from this experimental product will be used to evaluate product development. The WSSI does not depict official warnings and should always be used in context with official NWS forecasts and warnings. Because this product is experimental, it may not update in a timely fashion. Always check the creation and valid times. For more information, please refer to the following links: Product/Service Description Document, WSSI Users Guide, Interactive ESRI Story Map




First Slap of Winter. Wind chills in the 20s by late Friday into the weekend? That seems realistic, based on what I'm seeing. From low 70s to (feels like) 20s in the span of 48 hours. Looks like autumn to me. Graphic: AerisWeather.



Friday Wind Chills. Teens for the Red River Valley with single digits over the Dakotas. Yep; and I expect a chill factor dipping into the 20s for the Twin Cities metro by Friday afternoon and night. Map: Praedictix and AerisWeather.



ECMWF Snowfall Guidance. This is from the 12z Wednesday run of the European model, suggesting a coating of snow for the metro by midday Sunday, with plowable amounts near Alexandria. Credit: WeatherBell.

NAM Snowfall Numbers. Over 30" for parts of eastern North Dakota? Models are consistent printing out some whopping amounts, with plowable accumulations forecast for western Minnesota; maybe a cool foot or more of wind-whipped snow for Grand Forks. Map: pivotalweather.com.


Emboldened Pops of Canadian Air. By late October much of the southern and western USA continues to enjoy a summerlike pattern, while the northern half of the nation experiences more frequent shots of colder air as a longwave trough builds over the Great Lakes.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Wednesday, October 9th, 2019:

  • As of 7AM CDT, Super Typhoon Hagibis continues as an equivalent category 5 hurricane with 161mph sustained winds and gusts of 196mph.
  • Hagibis was located about 300 miles south-southwest of Iwo To and was moving north-northwest at 12mph.
  • Latest forecasts from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center suggest that Hagibis will impact Japan this week as an equivalent category 2 hurricane with winds near 110mph, large waves, storm surges and torrential rainfall of 5" to 10" that could cause life-threatening floods and possibly mudslides.
  • Extreme and Critical fire weather conditions have been issued today and tomorrow across parts of California, where warm, dry and very windy conditions will be in place. Nearly 500,000 customers are without power ahead of the extreme wind event that could cause wild fires to spread rapidly if they do start.
  • Another major winter storm is unfolding and will contiue across parts of the northern Rockies to the Red River Valley over the next several days. Latest forecasts suggest as much as 1ft. to 2ft. of snow with whiteout conditions possible as winds gust to near 40mph or 50mph.

Hagibis on Satellite: Hagibis has been a super typhoon, with maximum sustained winds of 150mph or greater, for nearly 60 hours, which is a record for the western North Pacific so far this season. Earlier this week, the storm's winds increased by 100 miles per hour in just 24 hours, which makes it one of the fastest rates of intensification ever observed on Earth!


Tracking Hagibis: According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Hagibis is an equivalent category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 161mph and wind gusts of 196mph. The storm is currently located about 300 miles south-southwest of Iwo To and was moving north-northwest at 12mph. The forecast has Hagibis tracking north-northwest through the end of the week before making a northeasterly turn toward Tokyo, Japan this weekend. It appears that mainland Japan will be most at risk as it approaches the coast on Saturday with damaging winds and torrential rainfall. The current forecast suggests wind speeds equivalent to a category 2 storm with winds of nearly 110mph and rainfall amounts of 5" to 10", which could lead to life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides. There is still some uncertainty of where the worst of the impacts will be felt, but facilities in the path of this storm in Tokyo should prepare for Hagibis over the coming days.


Rain Threat: Heavy rainfall could be possible across parts of Japan, including Tokyo over the next 5 to 7 days. Latest forecasts suggest the potential of torrential rainfall of 5" to 10", which could cuase life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides across the region. We will continue to update you on the situation as more details become available and as we get closer to the weekend.


Fire Threat Wednesday: According to NOAA's SPC, there is an Extreme Fire threat today north of San Francisco, CA, where warm dry and very windy weather conditions could cause wildfires to spread rapidly if they develop today. There is also a more widespread Critical Fire threat in red across parts of northern California and across parts of the Four Corners region, where wildfires could also spread rapidly if they develop.


Fire Threat Thursday: Extreme and Critical fire weather conditions will continue across parts of California Thursday as warm dry and windy weather continues. The most extreme wildfire conditions will be north of Los Angeles, CA, where wind gusts could 60mph to near 70mph during the afternoon. Meanwhile, Critical fire weather conditions will continue across parts of southwestern and northern California.


Red Flag Warnings: The National Weather Service has issued a number of Red Flag Warnings (in red) across much of the southwest in advance of a significant wildfire threat through the 2nd half of the week. Warm, dry and very windy conditions within these areas could cause ongoing and any developing wildfires to spread rapidly.


High Wind Concerns: The National Weather Service has issued a number of High Wind Watches, Warnings and Advisories across much of the Southwest in advance of a signifcant wind event that will unfold over the next few days. Lower evelations could see sustained winds in the 35mph to 55mph range, while higher elevations could see wind gusts of 60mph to 70mph!


Power Outages In California: According to PowerOutage.us, nearly 500,000 customers are without power today due to the Extreme Fire threat across parts of northern California. These power outages have been proactive measures to prevent any wildfires from starting due to sparking power lines. 


Winter Weather Concerns: A major winter storm is unfolding across parts of the northern Rockies, High Plains and into the Red River Valley. The National Weather Service has issued a number of winter weather headlines that stretch from eastern portions of Washington and Oregon to northern Colorado and into the Red River Valley for the potential of very heavy snowfall and strong winds that will likely bring significant impacts to the region over the next several days.


Snowfall Expected Through 7PM Friday: Here is the expected snowfall through 7PM Friday, which shows heavy snowfall across parts of Montanta, Wyoming and through the Dakotas. Some of the heaviest and most widespread through the time will be in the Dakotas, where 12" to nearly 18" snowfall amounts can't be ruled out. Keep in mind that there will likely be additional snowfall through the weekend with total amounts approaching 1ft. to 2ft. or more.


Winter Storm Severity Index: The overall impacts from the upcoming winter storm could be extreme across a wide area from northern portions of South Dakota to much of central and eastern North Dakota. The term "Extreme" can be categorized as: "Extensive and widespread severe property damage, life saving actions will be needed. Results in extreme disruption to daily life." Again, this storm will bring significant impacts to the region with areas of very heavy snow and strong winds that could create near whiteout conditions. There will likely be areas of no travel advised as the storm system unfolds over the next few days.

Todd Nelson, Meteorologist, Praedictix.


10 Billion-Dollar U.S. Weather Disasters So Far in 2019, According to NOAA. Weather.com has details: "Ten weather disasters have caused at least $1 billion in damage in the United States so far in 2019, according to a just-released government report. Among the billion-dollar weather disasters in the first nine months of the year were a pair of landfalling tropical cyclones, according to NOAA's findings. Severe weather, drought and river flooding also made the list. In records going back to 1980, the U.S. has endured a total of 254 billion-dollar weather disasters inflicting a combined $1.7 trillion (USD 2019) in damage. Out of those 254 events, 65 have occurred in the last five years. That's more than twice as many per year as the annual average since 1980. Inflation doesn't explain the increase, because the figures are inflation-adjusted..."


History of the First Snow of the Season. Just in case you're curious, check out this link at NOAA's Climate.gov: "...These locations are a subset of the complete Global Historical Climatology Network that met various quality controls for reasonableness and completeness of snow cover.  Most stations have at least 20 years of data. A few have a shorter history, but are otherwise of good quality (e.g., little to no missing data). This map should not be interpreted as the “earliest ever” first snow of the season at a given place. It is simply the earliest date of first snow at a given station during its period of operation. As you can see if you explore the map, the length of station histories varies, and to describe the complete history of snowfall at a given place, climate scientists might have to carefully piece together time series from stations at or near the same place that have operated through different periods of history..."



Fill, Build and Flood: Dangerous Development in Flood-Prone Areas. I had no idea this was going on. U.S. News has the post: "...Some call it “fill and build” – the practice of piling fill dirt on flood-prone land, then constructing housing or other developments on top. As Straka and her neighbors have discovered, “fill, build and flood” might be more apt. You might ask: Why build on flood-prone land at all? The answer is money. Developers can charge a premium for homes near the water. And unbuilt land in the flood plain is cheaper – and more abundant – than land on higher ground. These economic realities are driving a vast expansion of development in flood-prone areas. In fact, between 2000 and 2016, the U.S. saw more population growth in flood plains than outside of them..."


Conundrum: Why People Do Not Listen to Evacuation Orders. Because we've become a nation of armchair meteorologists. Scientific American has more insight: "...After Superstorm Sandy killed 117 people along the East Coast in 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a startling finding: The leading cause of death was drowning, and nearly half of the drownings occurred in flooded homes where mandatory evacuation orders were in place. The finding helped prompt Congress in 2017 to order NOAA researchers to study how the public receives, interprets and responds to weather alerts and to come up with better warnings. But 2 ½ years later, as climate change is intensifying hurricanes and storms, the warning system remains flawed and the public continues to flout evacuation orders, experts told a congressional hearing yesterday..."

Sandy File image: AP.



Why Everything is Getting Louder. Noise pollution is a real thing. I said NOISE POLLUTION IS A REAL THING! Here's a clip from The Atlantic: "...Scientists have known for decades that noise—even at the seemingly innocuous volume of car traffic—is bad for us. “Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience,” former U.S. Surgeon General William Stewart said in 1978. In the years since, numerous studies have only underscored his assertion that noise “must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere.” Say you’re trying to fall asleep. You may think you’ve tuned out the grumble of trucks downshifting outside, but your body has not: Your adrenal glands are pumping stress hormones, your blood pressure and heart rate are rising, your digestion is slowing down. Your brain continues to process sounds while you snooze, and your blood pressure spikes in response to clatter as low as 33 decibels—slightly louder than a purring cat..."


We're More at Risk of Nuclear War with Russia Than We Think. Oh lovely. Because we weren't all quite anxious enough. Details via a post at POLITICO: "...In fact, cyber technologies, artificial intelligence, advanced hypersonic weapons delivery systems and antisatellite weaponry are making the U.S.-Russian shadow war much more complex and dangerous than the old Cold War competition. They are blurring traditional lines between espionage and warfare, entangling nuclear and conventional weaponry, and erasing old distinctions between offensive and defensive operations. Whereas the development of nuclear weaponry in the Cold War produced the concept of mutually assured destruction and had a restraining effect, in the cyber arena, playing offense is increasingly seen as the best defense. And in a highly connected world in which financial networks, commercial operations, media platforms, and nuclear command and control systems are all linked together in some way, escalation from the cyber world into the physical domain is a serious danger..."

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss.


Paralyzed Man Walks Using Mind-Controlled Exoskeleton. The stuff of science fiction is rapidly becoming science fact. The Guardian has the story: "A French man paralysed in a nightclub accident has walked again thanks to a brain-controlled exoskeleton, providing hope to tetraplegics seeking to regain movement. The patient trained for months, harnessing his brain signals to control a computer-simulated avatar to perform basic movements before using the robot device to walk. Scientists described the trial results as a breakthrough. Doctors who conducted the trial said though the device was years away from being publicly available, it had the potential to improve patients’ quality of life and autonomy. The patient, identified only as Thibault, 28, from Lyon, said the technology had given him a new lease of life..."


Goodyear Blimp Listed on Airbnb. Here's a blip from CNN Travel: "...Goodyear listed one of its blimps on Airbnb for three separate one-night stays October 22 through 24. But aviation lovers, be warned—the blimp will stay grounded during your stay. Somehow, Goodyear squeezed a bed, a couch, two chairs, several tables, a potted plant and plenty of football knicknacks into the tiny blimp gondola, and it looks surprisingly cozy.  The blimp will stay parked in an air hangar minutes from Goodyear's headquarters in Akron, Ohio. Luckily, guests can stretch their legs in a wall-less entertaining space just outside, complete with a TV and open bar (it's a good thing—Goodyear won't allow guests to bring their own alcohol)..."

Image credit: Airbnb.


Elon Musk Wants His Cars to Fart and Bleat - In the Name of Safety. I know, it's a lot to take in. Here's an excerpt from The Verge: "Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that he wants his company’s cars to offer custom horn and movement sounds in the future, and suggested that these could include the sound of goats, farts, and even coconuts. Teslerati notes that this latter suggestion seems to be a reference to King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, who has his assistant Patsy use a pair of coconut halves to imitate the sound of his absent steed. From September next year, electric cars sold in the US will have to emit artificial noise when traveling under 18.6 miles per hour, to make up for the absence of noisy internal combustion engines..."

Photo credit: Sean O’Kane/The Verge.


73 F. high Wednesday in the Twin Cities.

61 F. average high on October 9.

50 F. maximum MSP temperature on October 9, 2018.

October 10, 1977: A few locations receive early accumulating snow, including Minneapolis with 2.5 inches, Gaylord with 2 inches, and Jordan with 2 inches.

October 10, 1970: Early snowfall is recorded in west central Minnesota. Snow totals range from a trace to 4.2 inches in Benson. Other areas include Montevideo with 4 inches, Canby with 3.2 inches, Morris with 2.6 inches, and Willmar with 2.5 inches. New London, New Ulm, and Buffalo all recorded 2 inches of snowfall.

October 10, 1949: An incredibly strong low pressure system brings hurricane force winds across Minnesota. This was possibly the strongest non-thunderstorm wind event seen in Minnesota. Top winds are clocked at 100 mph at Rochester, with a gust of 89 mph at the Twin Cities International Airport. 4 deaths and 81 injuries are reported. Numerous store windows are broken, and large chimneys toppled. The top 10 floors of the Foshay building are evacuated with the tenants feeling seasick from the swaying building.

October 10, 1928: Record high temperatures are set across central Minnesota with highs in the upper 80s to lower 90s.


THURSDAY: Showers, possible thunder. Winds: SE 15-25. High: 64

FRIDAY: Showers taper, gusty and colder. Winds: W 15-30. Wake-up: 42. High: 44

SATURDAY: Light rain/snow mix. Few slushy lawns in the metro. Winds: W 10-20. High: 40

SUNDAY: Gray with flurries and sprinkles. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 33. High: 42

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, winds die down. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 34. High: 47

TUESDAY: Another cool front, few showers. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 38. High: near 50

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, a little nicer. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 35. High: 49


Climate Stories....

Earth Just Had It's Hottest September on Record. USA TODAY reports: "The heat goes on. The Earth just had its warmest September on record, tying a mark set in 2016, according to data released Friday by the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a European group that measures the planet's temperatures.   Globally, September 2019 was roughly 1.02 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average from 1981-2010, "making it the warmest September in our data record, although virtually on a par with 2016," the group said in a statement.  "Regions with the most markedly above average temperatures included the central and eastern USA, the Mongolian plateau and parts of the Arctic. Much below average temperatures were only recorded in a few regions, including southwestern Russia and parts of Antarctica," the group said..."

Image credit: "Surface air temperature anomaly for September 2019 relative to the September average for the period 1981-2010. Data source: ERA5." Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.


Investors Are Getting Closer to a Climate Change Tipping Point. CNBC.com explains: "No investor can afford to ignore climate change. It poses a business-critical risk for global companies and a systemic challenge to the financial system. With the consequences of climate change already being felt, it will increasingly impact all economies, asset classes and industries, whether directly or indirectly. Without greater action, we can expect an estimated $23 trillion in global losses over the next 80 years in line with a 4°C rise in global temperatures. This can be avoided, but it requires far bolder and more urgent action in driving forward and adapting to the necessary transition to a clean global economy. As the governors of the Bank of England and Bank of France explain, "If some companies and industries fail to adjust to this new world, they will fail to exist..."


Swedish Teen Urges Youth to Demand Climate Change Action. AP reports: "A 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist was joined by another teen activist on a North Dakota Indian reservation to urge young people to demand action on climate change. Greta Thunberg told students at Standing Rock High School Tuesday that “lots of indigenous communities are at the front line, and you are the true warriors.” Next to her was Tokata Iron Eyes, who is among Standing Rock youth fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Bismarck Tribune reports she invited Thunberg to visit the reservation after the two struck up a friendship..."

Photo credit: "Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, speaks at Standing Rock High School, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Fort Yates, N.D.. Thunberg's visit was part of a panel discussion on American Indian opposition to pipeline projects including the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines." (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)



Record Highs vs. Record Lows. In recent decades record daytime highs have greatly outnumbered record lows, at a local and national level. Graphics above: Climate Central.


Conservatives Can Lead the Country to Climate Change Solutions. Former GOP congressman Bob Ingliss has an Op-Ed at The Miami Herald; here's an excerpt: "...Increasingly, conservative members of “Gen Z” — post-millennials — join millennials in overwhelmingly accepting the science of climate change and wanting to take action. Mind you, these young adults have never experienced a cooler-than-average month in their lives. To them, climate change isn’t just a political wedge; it’s a high priority value that demands a solution. And if they’re conservative young adults, they want a solution without grandiose economy shifting, government growing initiatives. Rubio counsels against a “regressive overreaction,” and surely we want to avoid regression. But vetted economic solutions to climate change — such as the revenue-neutral, border adjustable carbon tax favored by most economists — is completely consistent with bedrock conservative principles and reliance on markets for innovation..."

Photo credit: "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made stewardship of the environment a centerpiece of his campaign." AP.


How Climate Change and Flash Flooding is Affecting Communities Across the Country. NPR has the story of what is happening in Ellicott City, Maryland; here's an excerpt: "...But it was the third part of the plan that would destroy friendships and pit neighbors against each other and nearly destroyed the entire social fabric of old Ellicott City. The third part of the plan was to tear down 10 buildings on Main Street to make room for the river. And this is where the story of the people of Ellicott City becomes the story of climate change in America. When the climate changes and the future no longer looks like the past, people all over the country are forced to make huge, life-changing decisions. There's no playbook for how to do it, and there's no cavalry coming to help, and if it goes wrong, your town can die..."



Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article235912997.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article235912997.html#storylink=cpy

2050: The Fight for Earth. Check out some of the posts at at special edition of TIME.com: "Thirty years ago, TIME named the endangered Earth Planet of the Year. It’s taken that long for the world to wake up to the reality. Man-made climate change has thrown us headfirst into a true crisis that touches every part of the globe, and we can’t waste any time making systemic changes to the global economy, geopolitics, and culture if we want life on Earth to survive. Thirty years from now, we’ll look back at 2019 as another inflection point—whether good or bad is up to us. Read TIME Editor in Chief Edward Felsenthal on why we committed to putting climate change at the center of our editorial mission..."


How Penn State is Cutting Greenhouse Emissions in Half - And Saving Money. OK, I have to wave my alma mater's (blue and white) flag on this post, courtesy of NPR: "...Stryker pulled off a classic bureaucratic move. He persuaded the university president to declare "environmental stewardship" an official priority. It gave him leverage with other parts of the administration. He got Penn State's budget and finance offices to set up a revolving fund to pay for upgrades that cut greenhouse emissions. These were loans that had to be paid back, with interest. "It took a while to get the finance guys to agree," Stryker says with a chuckle. "We had to demonstrate that we were actually saving money." This, in fact, is what reversed that rising line on the graph of greenhouse emissions: a whole bunch of projects that cut the university's demand for energy. Most of them paid for themselves within 10 years through lower energy bills..."

Graphic credit: Penn State, Sean McMinn/NPR.


If Each of Us Planted a Tree, Would It Slow Global Warming? The answer is yes, but not by as much as I would have thought. That doesn't make it a bad idea, though. WIRED.com runs the numbers: "...Hey, that's not bad! This says that if every one of us took a couple of hours this weekend to plant a tree, it would eventually reduce the carbon dioxide level by around 6 percent from the current level...How about one more quick estimation. If everyone planted a tree, how much land would that require? Let's say they’re planted in a square grid, 5 meters apart, so that each tree takes up an area of 25 square meters. With 7.5 billion trees, that requires 1.8 x 1011 square meters of land, or 72,000 square miles. That's roughly the size of North Dakota. I think we could do that. And with all due respect, North Dakota could use some more trees..."


It's Cool to Give $$ to Climate Now: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: "Two big climate-related donations made in recent week may signal a shift in how philanthropists are thinking about funding climate change, NPR reports. A $750 million gift for climate research to the California Institute of Technology, the second-largest donation ever given to an American university, and a $300 million pledge from the Gates Foundation for research into food and climate show that show that philanthropists are beginning to overcome concerns about the issue being politicized, which climate finance experts tell NPR previously caused hesitation from donors. Last week, the New York Times profiled the money and funders behind civil disobedience groups like Extinction Rebellion, which counts major names like Rory Kennedy and Aileen Getty as supporters." (Donations: NPR. XR: New York Times $)

Older Post

No Cause For Snowy Panic Just Yet

Newer Post

Snow Prediction: Nuisance MSP - Plowable Red River Valley - Crippling Dakotas